Barclays Opt-Out Revealed; Can The New York Islanders Leave?
Brad Penner, USATSI

The New York Islanders lease with the Barclays Center has been outed in full and it reveals some interesting facets regarding their tenure in Brooklyn.

The New York Islanders can walk after at least their third year. Whether they will, and where they would go, is still a mystery. After breaking down the information, here’s how it all pans out.

What We Know For Certain

By now, nearly all of Islanders Nation has heard the breaking news in regards of the organization’s relationship with the Barclays Center. Some fans have wanted to see the writing on the wall of the Barclays Center and others will go to the ends of the Brooklyn Bridge to defend it.

Before divulging into attacks or defense, here is what we know for certain, according to Jim Baumbach of Newsday:

“The two sides can begin the negotiation process as early as the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season. If both sides CANNOT reach an agreement by the 1st of January 2018, then either side has until the end of January to opt-out of the deal, but when the Islanders would leave all depends on which side opts out first.”

If New York decides to opt-out first, then the team can stay until the conclusion of their fourth season, or choose to leave at the conclusion of their third season, should they wish to do so

If the Barclays Center files an opt out, the Islanders must remain at the Barclays Center until the conclusion of the fourth season.

But the one big caveat to even begin the discussion of leaving is that the two sides must be in talks to extend their stay in good faith. Being that rumors of new buildings have been outed and now that the owners are publicly looking for a way out, you have to wonder how much good faith is there on either side.

In Defense of The Barclays

Management has heard the cries and pleas of fans to improve the Barclays Center. From the year-old argument of obstructed views, to the lighting issues of the arena being too dark, to the lack of Islander-related paraphernalia in the stadium, there is no doubt the Barclays Center is not a perfect or ideal solution. But the important thing to note is that it will get there.

With that being said, there are some fans are ecstatic to begin fantasizing about an arena built next to Citi Field, or in Belmont, as some rumors have suggested. While all of these would be fine alternatives to the current setup, none of these are realistically possible within the next two or three years. The owners realize this, and Ledecky himself stated in an interview on July 14, via Neil Best of Newsday:

“We have to make Barclays Center feel more like the Islanders’ home. It’s a wonderful facility, but it is generic. So we’re working with Barclays. In the middle of [last season] we weren’t happy with the scoreboard presentation, so we sat down with them, and they’re great partners, and they got a production company to start increasing the professionalism and expand the number of the videos to engage the fans. We started trying to put up Islanders logos and the pictures of the players.”

From a personal experience, the Barclays Center has been adjusting slowly.

It’s true, during the home opener the arena was bare and devoid of many Islanders features. The faces of the Nets were littered throughout the arena, the cup banners seemed tucked out of sight, the Islanders were treated like second class citizens behind a team that finished second to last in their conference.

By Game 3 of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, John Tavares decorated the doors of the Barclays Center. The pregame video was enhanced with projected images, and the goal horn echoed loudly throughout the arena, giving fans similar euphoric feelings to being at the Coliseum.

Even by the second visit to the arena it had been evident which sections provided the best experience when the best chance to get up from your seat would be and familiarity of the general layout of the arena.

It is improving and both sides are committed to improving it by next season. The transition has been slow, that is undeniable. A lot needs to be revamped, that is also sheer fact.

But ultimately, it is a brand new, modern, state of the art facility that fans have been asking of the owners for decades. Is the Barlcays Center a stop-gap? Most likely, as there wouldn’t be as many out-clauses if it wasn’t. But it will be home for the foreseeable future.

It’s time to help make it feel like home, not berate it. The cheers, cries and screams of joy after Game 6’s double overtime goal to catapult the Islanders into the second round rivaled some cheers of the Coliseum.

After all, home is where the heart is. In the end, if fans bring the heart, it will be much easier to call it home.

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